Here are the details for the ".I've never been there before" November 2019 Laos tour.
Hi guys and gals, welcome to the details for my first "I've never been there before tour" (except for Mongolia to UK where one person left the group and got stuck in a bog for 2 days and had to sleep on his bike...but we don't talk about that). Apologies for only giving 6 months notice on this one, but time just passed by while I contemplated how to run this run one. And I've decided: we're just gonna jump in head first for the most authentic experience possible.
Here's the general idea of the trip: we fly in and meet at a predetermined hotel, we start to get to know each other, and you probably ask me what the plan is for tomorrow. You then realise just how little I've planned and start to wonder what you've signed up for. Here's what I will have researched: What the best touristy things to see are, and where the best motorcycling roads are. That will be basically it.
Just to confirm: I've never been to Laos. I don't know what it will be like.
The ethos of this journey will be as close to round the world motorcycle travel as you can get without quitting your job. We'll arrive in a new country, everything will be an assault on the senses and puzzling to us. That's the fun part. I won't research how much fuel is, what the currency is, where the hotels are, nothing (I recommend you don't either). We're just gonna wing it, and use our wits to ensure a productive and enjoyable trip. I've done this for the last 48 countries I've ridden through on Ninety and it yields the most chaos and excitement in my opinion.
Please find detailed details below: (that makes sense I think)
This is the email where you get all the information required to decide whether to come on this “tour” or not. The 6 available places for this “tour” are first come first serve basis. Payment of the non-refundable £500 deposit along with signing the disclaimer attached gets you your place.
Be warned, the trip will contain 100% adventure, and it will require some leaps of faith and problem solving. You might also be wondering why the words “tour” above are in inverted commas. This is to start to convey just what the trip will be like. I am not a tour company, I am merely a facilitator of chaos. If you want to ride around Laos with someone that will guarantee your safety and tell you in the morning how many miles until the next air conditioned cafe with wifi.....for the love of god do not sign up for this trip. We're gonna ride through the jungle on a route I've never done before, to places I've never been before. I am there to answer your questions and tell you what I've done in the past to get out of the situation you're currently in. I am not there to take responsibility for you. Use my videos and the one about the 2017 Vietnam tour as a guide; the absolute minimum is organised, this is all about letting fate do to us what it wants.
It's in South East Asia so expect the traffic to be the usual chaos in the cities.
However the mountainous north does appear to have some awesome roads with much less traffic on them.
Some without tarmac on them.
And some without any grip on them.
Oh and I think we'll end up going tubing, which is where you get an inner tube and some beers and float down the river for the day and stop in bars along the way. The good news is that since the government cracked down on the dangers in 2012 after so many tourists died, it's apparently a lot more relaxed and adult, rather that the 18 to 30's nighclub scene of the past.
I'll also look up some more things to see on online and we'll make a group decision on our approximate route on the first night. Everything's very fluid of course, and can change as things progress.
Dates and flights:
Meet in a to be decided hotel in Vientiane (VTE airport code) Saturday night 9th November, fly out of Vientiane Saturday 23rd November. The dates are a guide for you, this is what happens; we will be collecting the hire bikes Sunday 10th November, and then riding out of Vientiane on Monday. I will be arriving Saturday and the having a day to settle in. I recommend you do the same. But you can fly in Sunday and get the bike the same day if you wish, I just think it'll be a bit too much of an assault on the senses to do it that rushed. Saturday and Sunday night will also be the first two days of the largest public holiday in Laos where 1000's of monks come to the capital city and burn candles in the streets and do other things that I'll research as it looks quite a cool spectacle.
If you can only get two weeks off work, you will need to leave Saturday to arrive at a decent time Sunday to get some sleep and go to work Monday and piss off your colleagues with stories of the fun you had. Of course you might also be sat at your desk shaking and thinking “what the hell just happened?” Go to www.skyscanner.net for the best way to find cheap tickets. If you find cheaper, let me know and I will forward it to other people. I will keep an eye out for you too.
Weather to expect
We'll be there in the dry season after the rains have stopped. Expect clear skies and predictable rain (lasts for 30 mins at the same time each day....normally).Temperatures should be between 25oC and 30oC (I can hear the British people smiling as I type this).
After the first Vietnam “tour” I learnt a valuable lesson; for the love of god don't buy second hand bikes again. They broke down so often that we had to keep taking the main roads to make up time, and while it didn't spoil the trip, we missed out on some cool sights, and it wasn't as fun at it should have been. So......
We'll be hiring Honda step throughs like the locals ride. In Cambodia not a single one broke down, and it'd be lovely if the same happened again. But if there is a breakdown, I'll do what I do best and get it up and running again. and no, we won't know where the repair shops are, so chaos will ensue
I might research where to hire them from, or not....depends how dangerous I'm feeling.
Visas and vaccinations
Laos is nice and easy in that you can get a 30 day visa on arrival for less than $40 at the airport.
In terms of vaccinations: please ask you doctor, I won't give advice on this for obvious reasons. Please get them. Although most things will only start to kill you once you're back home and not my responsibility anymore, I'll almost certainly quite like you at the end of the trip and wouldn't like you to become a vegetable.
Distance per day / difficulty of riding
2000 km (1250 miles) ish for the round trip. 12 days total to ride. But we'll be going off-road and on terrible roads for a lot of it. So expect more miles, and reduced speeds. 100 miles per day is a good target for us.
Difficulty of riding: The roads will probably be bad so don't expect Moto GP cornering. The rural roads will probably be slow and gentle, the town roads slow and chaotic. Off-road will be mud, gravel, sand and probably wet rocks and stuff when it rains.
Off-road: we're not going to be doing jumps and doughnuts, we don't want to upset the locals, but we will need to make progress. If it's slippery or sandy, it'll be second gear and gently chug through it, I don't want anyone ending up in hospital. To help stop a hospital visit, there is a minimum skill requirement (see below).
There is a minimum riding skills requirement because we will need to be able to keep riding at a gentle pace, off-road, and not waiting for one really slow rider. Nothing crazy, but you must be able to have the back wheel slide out and regain control.
As I said, the reason for this is so that if we're riding through sand, we can all gently plod along at 15mph, instead of being delayed because one rider crashes every 20 feet. If you are not confident on a motorcycle, then do not come on this tour please. If the thought of riding a bike on slippery mud or sand terrifies you, then please don't come on this tour, you won't have a good time when the road disappears. You'll also end up buying everyone's beers and I'll throw things at you to speed you up.
Clothing requirements (boring bit where I sound like your mum).
You will need to wear full gear. If you come off your bike, I want it to be a funny experience and not a trip to the hospital or 3 hours lost waiting for you to stop bleeding. I know the locals ride in shorts and t-shirts, but we have a challenge to complete!
You will need: motorcycle helmet, motorcycle gloves, motorcycle boots, motorcycle jacket, motorcycle trousers.
Yes it might sound weird that I've put the word motorcycle in front of all of those things, but past victims, sorry.....participants have turned up in some amazingly inappropriate clothing for a 2000km motorcycling journey.
My advice for clothing (of course I licked a lamppost at -15oC, so you don't have to take it): Summer riding gear! Laos will be double the average UK summer temperature. So wear 'mesh' gear if possible, or just lightweight stuff. I will be wearing mesh gear. I will be taking a set of cheap and thin waterproof trousers and jacket to go over the top in case it rains and we need to ride in it. The rains should be short and sweet so we shouldn't need to, but just in case. The waterproofs also shield the wind from you and keep you warm when we go into the mountains.
My top tip: don't take waterproof liners that go inside your gear, take ones that go on the outside. If it rains you have to get naked and your skin wet, they're crap. Top tip: I love my Olympia Dakar riding trousers that unzip into shorts http://bit.ly/2bqjbSA . They're mesh and comfy with massive pockets. If you live in a hot country, I really recommend them. If you live in the UK, you'll freeze your nuts of in them back home and I'd just get some cheap stuff online. I rode home from Malaysia in a £30 mesh jacket and kevlar lined jeans after all. I'll be wearing my dakar trousers like always.
Gloves: Thin leather motocross gloves are nice and cooling and still stop road rash, cheap too. If it rains, marigolds over the top or waterproof bike gloves, or just get wet hands.
Boots: Need to have ankle support. You WILL put a foot down at some point. You need ankle support to stop your ankle snapping.
Helmet: Local ones are crap! Bring your own. Please bring either a flip up helmet or open face. This is so that we can quickly stop and discuss things (where to eat etc), if you're wearing a full face, communicating is crap. I would prefer you to wear a flip-up helmet for protection for your jaw, and the ability to flip it down and hide your probably western features from traffic cops and disappear in the sea of bikes (it just reduces our chances of being stopped...I never was though).
If you do not have full motorcycle gear, you will not be allowed to ride with us. This is a properly enforced rule of mine. Full gear means all items on the above list (covers your whole body)
This is very important! If you do not have travel insurance that covers you for riding a motorcycle off-road, I will not let you ride with us. This is because if you have an accident and are on life-support and the insurance company won't pay out, I'll either have to cough up money or you die. That is a lose-lose situation for me. Once again: if you don't have valid travel insurance, I will not let you ride with us.
I will be using Navigator travel insurance because they offer cover for off-road motorcycling for about £60 for the 15 days for me. There is an important stipulation; you must hold the licence to ride the motorcycle in your HOME country. If you don't have that licence, you have no insurance, and I won't let you ride with us.
Cost: £2400 total approx
£550 flights from UK.
£120 for bike hire
£700 for expenses. This is £50 per day which you'll find almost impossible to spend. That includes hotels, fuel, food etc. Hotels are £10 per night for example. You can even share with someone on the trip if you want and half the price, but it's up to you.
£1000 entry fee.
Top tip: have a little spare money just in case. You might see a cool gift that you'd like to take home.
Vetting of candidates:
Remember, this is an arsehole free zone. Rest assured, if you're a good person, this trip will not be ruined by anyone. If you've got this far in the email process, you also have a decent attention span, so you've passed stage 1.
Stage 2 will involve you sending me a bio with a few photos of yourself and a little about your life. I don't need war and peace, I just require you to write a page about yourself and include some photos. Don't worry too much about what to write, just talk about your interests, the type of person you are and things you've done like previous bike trips. There is no right or wrong type of person for my tours (except arseholes). I've had men, women, teenagers, 74 year olds, straight people, gay people. So don't be scared to say who you are.
Stage 3 will involve skype and video calls where we get to know each other and you can ask questions about the trip that I missed in this email.
If you are worried about not passing the arsehole test, you shouldn't take the arsehole test.
The above might sound a little harsh, but so far it has worked flawlessly and all the groups have been amazing, and we're all still talking even years later.
But I will make this very clear: if the people on the group think you're being an arsehole, I will tell you to amend your behaviour. If you do not, I will kick you off the tour and you will not be allowed to ride with us. If you do not do this, I will let your tyres down and we'll ride off. I will leave you a map and water should you need it.
I am not afraid of one person leaving a bad review of the trip because I kicked them off for being a dick....because there will be 5 other reviews saying how happy they were that I had the balls to leave kick the person off in the jungle (with a map of course, I'm not a monster).
This will be the trip of a lifetime, and I won't let anyone ruin it for the others
How to book a place:
Right, here we go! At 00:01am UK time Sunday 2nd June 2019, 30 spaces will appear at https://c90adventures.co.uk/store/ To secure your space, you need to select the “Laos 2019 tour” add it to your “bag”, go to the checkout, enter your email address and “place order”. You will then need to sign this disclaimer https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HJ5hc0wahX1gDAywBeSoc6DN_443uAa9aV-Sqe2F4LQ/edit?usp=sharing
and send it with your bio to firstname.lastname@example.org from the email address you gave when securing your space on my website.
Spaces are on a first come first served basis, and the shop on my website stores the order of purchases. From when you secure your space, you have 24 hours to send me the disclaimer and the bio. After 24 hours I send the first 6 people that sent in the bio and signed disclaimer my payment details. Each person has 3 days to send payment to me. Once 3 day has passed, their space is forfeit and number 7 in the queue is given my payment details, and so on until all 6 spaces are filled. Some banks are dicks and block payments and stuff like that, so if that happens, don't worry, just send me proof and you'll get an extension.
Important: Ignore the order number you get, they are for the whole store, not just this trip. If you're #62 you could actually be #5 on this trip.
And I think that's it! Phew, what a read!
Essentially, you know the drill now if you've seen any of my videos. Chaos, 100% adventure, and lots of smiles and stories to tell after.
And that's what life's about after all.
If you 100% want to come, be ready at 00:01am UK time as detailed above, get your space and send me your bio and signed disclaimer.
Your space will be allocated and the “holy shit this is gonna be awesome” feeling will set it.
And thanks for choosing to be part of the world's cheapest and most adventurous “tour” company
Ed and Ninety
P.S. Don't hesitate to ask any questions.